No toothaches are exactly the same. Some start as a slight nagging sensation only when you bite down, while others might throb incessantly whether you’re eating or not. Regardless of whether you have a minor toothache or a severe one, untreated toothaches can lead to infections.
Because oral infections can spread to other parts of your body, it’s essential to treat an infected tooth as soon as possible 一 and that’s just one of the many reasons Mehrnoosh Darj, DDS, offers urgent care services here at Dr. Darj Dental in El Paso, Texas.
Here are five telltale signs that you have an infected tooth.
1. Pain and discomfort
Infected teeth can cause pain near the tooth itself, but the pain can also radiate. You might experience:
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Pain in your jaw
- Discomfort in your ear or neck (often on the same side as your infected tooth)
- Pain that’s worse when you’re lying down
The only way to eliminate a toothache for good is to treat the underlying infection — and any other issues such as cracks or decay. However, until you’ve arrived for your appointment, you can take the edge off of your pain with over-the-counter pain medication, cold compresses on your cheeks, oral anesthetic gel, and salt water swishing.
2. Increased tooth sensitivity
In addition to causing pain, an infection can increase the sensitivity of your tooth. This includes sensitivity to pressure, which you might experience when you bite down or chew food, and to hot and cold food and drinks.
Note that sensitivity on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infection. Cavities and recent tooth whitening can also cause tooth sensitivity.
Edema is one of the most common signs of an oral infection 一 or any infection, for that matter. Also known as swelling, edema can show up on your face (especially your cheeks), but it can also lead to swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck.
Facial swelling can be a sign of an allergic reaction, too. If the swelling is so severe that it makes breathing difficult, call 9-1-1 or head to the nearest emergency department.
Any temperature reading over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever. Fevers are your body’s way of killing off the bacteria or virus that caused the infection. If you have a fever, you might experience a headache and chills.
5. Bad breath
It’s not uncommon to have bad breath after eating a meal with garlic or onions, but food-related bad breath usually subsides after you brush your teeth. That’s not the case with an infection.
Bacteria emit a foul odor, and if your tooth is infected, you may notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth as well. Your breath might smell bad even if you just brushed your teeth.
Treating tooth infections
Teeth become infected if bacteria sneak in through a chip, crack, or cavity. In order to stop the spread of the infection and to address your tooth pain, you may need antibiotics as well as dental treatment to repair the crack or cavity.
Depending on what caused your infection, your treatment options vary. Potential treatments include:
- Oral antibiotics
- Mercury-free fillings
- Root canal
- Extraction (for extremely damaged or infected teeth)
If your toothache is accompanied by fever, swelling, and pain when chewing, call Dr. Darj for a same-day appointment at 915-213-4097. For less urgent matters, you can request an appointment online.